Today's blog is written by Chrystal Thompson, Hope For The Warriors staff member. This month we have been sharing stories of how our supporters Give HOPE and Share HOPE. The families of Kingwood, Texas are wonderful examples of this. To get involved in the 4th Annual Kingwood Fallen Heroes Memorial Golf Tournament, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On April 26, 2014, I attended the 3rd Annual Kingwood Fallen Heroes Memorial Golf Tournament in Kingwood, TX.
The 501c (3) organization honors the fallen heroes of the Kingwood community to remember those that were killed in action while serving their country and to raise funds in support of organizations like Hope For The Warriors®. The three fallen heroes that the organization has recognized throughout the past three years are Sgt. William Meeuwsen, USA KIA, LCpl Luke Yepsen, USMC KIA, and Sgt Brandon Bury, USMC KIA.
All three graduated from Kingwood High School. William, who went by Bill, was killed on November 23, 2005 when his unit came under direct fire during combat operations near Baghdad, Iraq. Luke was killed on December 14, 2006 while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. Brandon was killed on June 6, 2010 while on patrol in Southern Afghanistan. All were young, honorable, and strong men who were survived not only by their parents but also by loving family members and friends. All three were killed serving our country.
In a media release leading up to the 3rd Annual Kingwood Fallen Heroes Memorial Golf Tournament, Scott Mitchell, said “we will forever miss these three fine young men who gave their lives so we may continue to enjoy the many freedoms that come with being an American citizen. This tournament celebrates their strength and courage; and yields a promise that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
After meeting and speaking with Scott and his father Don Mitchell for the first time, I realized that this event would be nothing like what I have experienced before. This year, 180 golfers participated in the tournament, coming from surrounding cities like Humble and Atascocita, and as far north as Dallas and Norman, Oklahoma. Among the golfers, there were family members who came to the reception following the tournament.
The reception included an awards ceremony, raffle, silent auction and dinner. The raffle and silent auction items were donated by members of the community and local businesses. The Houston Area Chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. chapter helped in the buffet line, serving food that was catered by Monterey’s Little Mexico- a local restaurant chain whose fund raising coordinator, Jarrod Glowacki, went to high school with two of the fallen heroes. The guest speaker this year was David Cantu, the Harris County Veteran Service Officer, who shared his hopes of serving those veterans that come home with physical and psychological wounds from serving overseas.
Seeing the degree of community coming together to celebrate the lives of three men who gave the ultimate sacrifice while honorably serving their country was very surreal.
My counterpart, Gus Cabarcas, Community Development Coordinator with Hope For The Warriors®, came down from Dallas for his second year. For the past three years, Kingwood Country Club, known as The Clubs of Kingwood, has opened their championship courses and “best in Texas” green fairways to the event. This year’s beautiful opening ceremony included a memorable twenty one rifle salute from the local Marine Corps Reserve Unit, 1st Battalion 23rd Marines prior to the shotgun start.
The weather was great along with the turnout. Once again Scott, Don, their families, and the volunteers did a great job putting this event together. I first met Don and Scott in March of 2013 and from the start I saw their commitment to this event and how hard they work to make this possible. The one thing that I remember the most is, how the community of Kingwood comes together once a year starting the night before to remember the sacrifices that were made by their three local patriots. – Gus
The night before the tournament, the Glowacki family hosted a pre-registration dinner at Monterey’s Little Mexico in Humble, with a percentage of proceeds going towards the Kingwood Fallen Heroes. Amber Johnson, Critical Care Coordinator for Hope For The Warriors®, described the compassion shown from the local members of the community, businesses, cities, and organizations, as truly inspiring. The Hope For The Warriors® relationship with Kingwood Fallen Heroes started with Amber.
In 2010, after being told the news that no mother will ever be prepared to hear, Terri Bury received a visit from her close friend, Nancy Johnson, Amber’s mother in-law. Immediately Mrs. Johnson called her daughter in-law and within minutes Amber was in touch with Mrs. Bury, offering emotion support, sage advice, and travel arrangements for family to say their goodbyes to Brandon at his memorial services in San Diego and Kingwood.
Soon after, Scott, Brandon’s best friend, decided to host an event to honor Brandon, Bill, and Luke. Looking back on the first Kingwood Fallen Heroes Memorial Golf Tournament in 2012, Amber shared a scene that will always remain close to her heart.
“The patriot guard lined most of the trails leading up to the golf course with flags. It was breathtaking to travel through this mile-long trail onto the course with six-foot t tall American flags catching the sun on either side. It took so much time and effort for them to set it up but that is how everyone is during this event. They don’t care how much time and effort it takes to get the job done right to properly honor the three fallen men. It is truly an event where everyone comes together.”
This year, the tournament benefited a total of three nonprofit veteran service organizations: Hope For The Warriors®, The Houston Area Chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. and Operation Military Embrace, Inc. Hope For The Warriors® received $30,000 from the Kingwood Fallen Heroes Memorial Golf Tournament to support programming for post-9/11 combat wounded service members, their families, and families of the fallen.
|Scott Mitchell presents donation to Chrystal Thompson after the tournament|